Monday, January 24, 2011

A note of encouragement

I’m wondering if there are any authors reading this blog who feel they could do with a little extra encouragement right now. Some of you might be riding high on a wave of writing success – perhaps you have a book due for release this year and other exciting speaking and writing opportunities happening. But perhaps some of you are still waiting for that elusive publishing contract or struggling to finish that work that is there in your head but just doesn’t seem to want to take shape on the page. Still others of you might have that publishing contract but are hard-pressed to know how best to promote your book and achieve better sales figures. There is no doubt that, alongside the joy and fulfilment of being an author, the challenges and frustrations abound.

Yes, we need encouragement – but I have found I often need to ask God to open my eyes and ears to see and hear it! It might be my strange personality, but sometimes I find myself so ready to hear the negative comments and allow the difficulties inherent in the whole writing journey to drag me down. I can even miss completely the encouraging word someone is trying to say to me by listening instead to that cynical voice in my head that says, ‘They can’t mean that! That can’t possibly be true about your writing!’ Do you, like me, need to choose to focus on God and receive his encouragement more often, both directly and through others?

I love reading God’s word each day. I keep reading until I believe I have found that particular message of challenge or encouragement or comfort God has for me at that point and I try to meditate on and interact with that word as my day unfolds. For example, recently I read the following words from Isaiah 51:16 that are particularly apt for those of us who speak and write:

I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand – I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’

As God’s people in 2011, how encouraging it is to know God will put his words in our mouths as we listen to him and that we can then allow them to flow out to others!

But I believe God also delights to use friends and family – even strangers – to bring unexpected snippets of encouragement our way. In one day recently, I received a phone call and two emails that had all the hallmarks of a loving, understanding God about them! First off, the phone call was from a ninety-seven year old lady I have met only once who had finished reading my third novel ‘Laura’ and, in her words, ‘just had to phone me’ and say how much she had enjoyed it. Then an email arrived from another lady I have met only once who had just read my first two novels, ‘Heléna’ and ‘All the Days of My Life’ straight through in a couple of days and couldn’t put them down. This email was followed soon after by one from a lady in New Zealand, who had gone to endless trouble to try to get hold of my second novel, having enjoyed my first so much, and finally was contacting me here in Australia to send it to her. I was touched by her keenness and perseverance and greatly encouraged yet again.

So as I write this, I am praying God will open your eyes and ears too to receive the encouragement you need for your journey. May 2011 be a year of great joy and fulfilment as you write what God has laid on your heart and gifted you to write!

Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney, Australia, and has four published novels, ‘Heléna’, ‘All the Days of My Life’, ‘Laura’ and ‘Jenna’. For more information, please visit her website,


  1. Those unexpected compliments sure can brighten a day. For myself, I write down those bits of sunshine and store them in a pretty jar on my desk. When the skies are gloomy and my mood is grey, I reach into the jar and pull out one of those bits of encouragement and re-read it. Then I give thanks for the person who sent it and get back to work.

  2. Yes, isn't it amazing the way someone's genuine enjoyment from reading your book becomes an impetus to write that next story floating around! And to know your words have had some sort of input into someone else's life makes all those lonely hours of research/writing so very worthwhile.

  3. Thank you for this post. I'm scattered into all the places you described. My devotional gift book, As Grandma Says, is being released the first of February. I have copies in hand as I write.

    Then there's the marketing and all that entails.

    And I'm looking for more speaking opportunities.

    Then there's this historical novel that is designed to be the first in a series of five...

    Oh, and my non-fiction called Properly Clad: How to Wear a Garment of Praise When Your Life Is Rags and Tatters...

    But I sent the first 500 words of my novel to a published author for a critique contest, and she sent back several compliments and picked two nits, so I know she read it carefully. I was elated to have someone with credentials tell me that it was good writing.

    Thank you for reminding me that God is the one who needs to be pleased with what I do and that he is the one who guides my pen.

  4. I am so late in commenting here - busy summer days. I've had many ups and downs in my writing career over the years - as I'm sure all writers! One reader writes "she';; never pibuy another book by this author." My heart sank, but the very next survey sheet had another reader praising it to the skies. Not just a "this is very nice read" type of a comment but a rave one! Only the God of all comfort can organise that kind of "co-incidence" when HE wants to encourage me to continue doing what HE wants us to! Thank you for your great post, Jo-Anne, that reminds us to be "encouragers".

  5. Sorry for the typos in that last comment. No idea what happened! Should read "she'd never buy..."